Health & Wellness

Self-compassion: myth busting

Think being self-compassionate means being selfish or like you’re wearing rose-coloured glasses? Here’s why it’s time to start thinking differently.
Published 17 December 2016

5 self-compassion myths busted

If you find it easier to be kind and caring towards other people rather than yourself, you’re not alone. Sometimes beliefs about what self-compassion is – and isn’t – as well as whether or not you feel like you deserve it can stand in your way. We’ve busted five self-compassion myths to prove exactly why you’re worth it.

1. Myth: ‘I am who I am. I come from a family of people who are hard on themselves.’

Fact: Actually, you can change. Self-compassion can be developed and improved if you practise.

2. Myth: ‘I need to be tough on myself to stay motivated.’

Fact: It’s not uncommon to think you have to be critical of yourself in order to be successful – after all, we need to know our flaws in order to fix them, right? But, while self-criticism may lead to a temporary improvement in your motivation, it doesn’t last. Criticising yourself can lead you to feel more anxious, less confident, and less motivated. Approaching your failures and difficulties with self-compassion actually increases motivation to get up and try again because you care about yourself and want to see yourself be happy. Consider the other people in your life and who you turn to for advice – are they people who are harsh and critical or kind and encouraging in their feedback?

3. Myth: ‘Self-compassion is just self-indulgent and selfish.’

Fact: Actually, we’re better equipped to be compassionate toward and care for other people when we’re compassionate towards ourselves, first.

4. Myth: ‘Being self-compassionate is like wearing rose-coloured glasses and falsely praising myself no matter what.’

Fact: Actually, the opposite is true. Self-compassion means seeing and accepting yourself for who you are, flaws and all, and recognising that everyone has flaws and makes mistakes – that’s part of being human.

5. Myth: ‘I don’t deserve self-compassion.’

Fact: Sometimes people believe that they don’t deserve self-compassion because of things from their past – things they have or haven’t done, or messages they’ve received from others. The thing to keep in mind is that treating yourself with self-compassion doesn’t mean that you’re condoning or forgetting things from your past, it means moving away from beating yourself up and moving towards the sometimes-difficult task of self-improvement while also recognising that you’re human, flaws and all.